Recent months have seen extensive reporting on Southwest Florida red tide conditions. To put that in context, it is important to understand that red tide is a phenomenon that occurs naturally throughout the world. It relates to the developing of algae blooms; large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms such as protozoans, algae or types of marine plankton. The red tide is responsible for killing fish, yet can also wreak havoc on the sensitivities of beach visitors who experience symptoms such as itchy, burning eyes, burning throats or respiratory discomfort. Though Southwest Florida red tide conditions have been particularly bad in recent months, this shouldn’t be regarded as something new. There have been documented cases of red tide that date back to the 1800s and it is simply an occasional and unfortunate facet of live among coastal communities throughout the world. At the same time, there is extensive science which indicates how man-made factors have exacerbated Southwest Florida red tide conditions, particularly agricultural checmicals and processes involving freshwater from Lake Okeechobee being discharged into the Gulf. As our region is so economically dependent on tourism, the integrity of our beaches remains an utmost concern of visitors, as well as residents and business owners alike. No doubt, there are strategies being discussed as to how best mitigate impacts to area beaches. Nonetheless, it is important to know that no matter how it occurs, the red tide eventually fades away, along with any unpleasant odors from dead fish strewn along the shore. At present, we’re experiencing significant improvement in Southwest Florida red tide conditions, and area beaches have by and large returned to their natural state of scenic beauty.
There is a very cool tool to track conditions at area beaches which comes from SO-COOL (better known as the Sarasota Operations Coastal Oceans Observation Laboratory) working in conjunction with MOTE Marine Laboratory. The tool enables you to simply click on the beach of your preference and see current report on red tide status. To give this a try, simply click on the image below.